Image Source : PTI CPI (M) state secretary MV Govindan

Kochi: In a move sparking troubles for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attacked a land parcel and bank deposits worth Rs 73 lakh belonging to the party as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation connected to the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank ‘scam’, according to official sources. 

A provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has been issued for attaching a land parcel worth Rs 10 lakh in Kerala’s Thrissur district and bank deposits worth Rs 63 lakh kept in five “undisclosed” bank accounts of the party, they said. The CPI(M) has vehemently denied the ED’s charges of wrongdoing and money laundering.

The ED said it believed that the land parcel attached was meant for the CPI(M) party office and was purchased using alleged kickbacks from the loanees or beneficiaries of the loans sanctioned by the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank. It relied on the “confessional” statements of the last two accused in the case, who claimed that the purported irregularities in the bank were orchestrated at the behest of CPI(M) Thrissur district committee leaders.

CPI(M) hits back at ED, accuses it of targeting opposition

The party pledged to legally and politically fight any move by the central agency to indict it in the case linked to the alleged multi-crore Karuvannur ban scam. CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan alleged that the ED was trying to make opposition parties and their leaders accused in various cases for political reasons.

Govindan further said the ED was attempting to create a smokescreen as it had failed to collect any evidence against the party. He asserted that it was a decades-long practice of registering the office and other assets of party units in the name of the respective district committees. “What role does the party have in the office constructed by one of its local committees,” he asked, accusing the ED of tarnishing the image of the party.

What is the case about?

This case of alleged fraud, beginning in 2010, in the Thrissur-based CPI(M)-controlled bank had triggered a political row in the state with the party saying it had done no wrong. The ED said its probe in the case found that “on the instructions of certain persons, who were district-level leaders and committee members of a certain political party and governed the bank, loans were disbursed by the bank manager through the agent in cash to non-member benamis by mortgaging properties of poor members without their knowledge and laundered to the benefit of the accused”.

Bogus loans were sanctioned by the bank against the same property multiple times without the knowledge of members of Society, according to the agency. The bank also sanctioned benami loans to non-members against inflated property valuations in the names of other members and such loan funds were siphoned off and laundered by the accused beneficiaries, according to the ED probe.

At least four people have been arrested in the case so far. The ED had filed a charge sheet in this case against 55 accused entities in November last year, along with attaching more than 120 assets worth about Rs 100 crore in connection with the money laundering scheme.

(with PTI inputs)